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US Senate votes AGAINST American’s internet privacy as it fails to amend parts of the Patriot Act

The US Senate voted Wednesday on an amendment to the Patriot Act that would prevent law enforcement from seizing American’s internet browsing and search history without a warrant.

The bill required 60 supporting votes to pass and the final tally came up with only 59 ayes and 37 nays – but the failure was only due to a lack of attendance.

Four senators were unable to cast their vote, as some were quarantined due to the coronavirus or others were unable to attend the gathering in Washington, DC, and one official was set to vote in favor of the move.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed the initial warrant-less search, which also gives Attorney General William Barr the power to investigate intelligence gathered through FBI surveillance.

The new amendment was proposed by two Senators who aimed to have enforcement establish probably cause or a reason for suspicion prior to obtaining a warrant, while limiting the powers of investigation.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (left) proposed the initial warrant-less search, which also gives Attorney General William Barr the power to investigate intelligence gathered through FBI surveillance

The bill was focused on amending Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was added in response to the September 11 attacks.

Section 215 allows the government to obtain internet activity from third parties without a warrant if deemed ‘relevant’ to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation.

Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee, revealed in 2013 how the government abuses the amendment to spy on billions of Americans’ phone conversations.

However, officials only need to obtain an order from a secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as a way to work around a warrant, Redcode reported.

The amendment required 60 supporting votes to pass and the final tally came up with only 59 ayes and 37 nays ¿ but the failure was only due to a lack of attendance. It was brought forth by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon (pictured) and Steve Daines of Montana

The amendment required 60 supporting votes to pass and the final tally came up with only 59 ayes and 37 nays – but the failure was only due to a lack of attendance. It was brought forth by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon (pictured) and Steve Daines of Montana 

The recent amendment to the Patriot Act was proposed by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Steve Daines of Montana.

The Democrat and Republican officials both agree that McConnell’s provisions give the government too much power into the lives of Americans.

SECTION 215 

Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the government to obtain a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requiring third parties like telephone companies to hand over any records or other ‘tangible thing’ if deemed ‘relevant’ to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation. 

Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee, revealed in 2013 how the government abuses the amendment to spy on billions of Americans’ phone conversations. 

After a federal appeals court ruled that the government’s interpretation of Section 215 was ‘unprecedented and unwarranted,’ the 2015 USA FREEDOM Act amended Section 215 to limit government access to these records.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

The pair proposed having law enforcement establish probably cause or a reason for suspicion prior to obtaining a warrant and limit the powers of investigation. 

‘To remove internet website browsing information and search history from scope of authority to access certain records for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations,’ reads the amendment document.

Both Senators spoke prior to the vote in support of their cause, with each presenting the amendment in away that would be favorable to their party.

Daines, who is a Republican, said it would hinder the FBI from abusing FISA courts to secretly investigate President Trump’s campaign and advisors.

While Wyden, a Democrat, explained how the amendment would stop Attorney General Barr from secretly investigating Trump’s ‘enemies.’

But, both Senators focused on how the move would protect Americans’ privacy.

While speaking, Wyden also discussed the coronavirus pandemic and how this event has increased internet use in the US.

‘Is it right, when millions of law-abiding Americans are at home, for their government to be able to spy on their internet searches and their web browsing without a warrant?’ the senator asked, noting that the internet has become many people’s only connection to the outside world.

‘We are more vulnerable to abusive surveillance than ever before.’

However, the tally fell short by one vote that required 60 ayes to pass to chamber and 10 who opposed were Democrat officials.

Wyden and Daines (pictured) aimed to have law enforcement establish probably cause or a reason for suspicion prior to obtaining a warrant and limit the powers of investigation

Wyden and Daines (pictured) aimed to have law enforcement establish probably cause or a reason for suspicion prior to obtaining a warrant and limit the powers of investigation

The US Senate voted Wednesday on provisions to the Patriot Act that would prevent law enforcement from seizing American's internet browsing and search history without a warrant

The US Senate voted Wednesday on provisions to the Patriot Act that would prevent law enforcement from seizing American’s internet browsing and search history without a warrant

Wyden told Recode: ‘There is little information that is more personal than your web browsing history.’

‘If you know that a person is visiting the website of a mental health professional, or a substance abuse support group, or a particular political organization, or a particular dating site, you know a tremendous amount of private and personal information about that individual.’

‘Getting access to somebody’s web browsing history is almost like spying on their thoughts.’

‘This level of surveillance absolutely ought to require a warrant.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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